E-learning is the future of learning, the global eLearning market is now $100 billion plus. The rapid growth the elearning industry has created needs for various supporting technologies.
One area that is gaining significance is the virtual proctoring space. If it weren’t for e-learning then online video proctoring wouldn't have become mainstream, but given what’s at stake for online course programs the demand for such a service has grown at a fast pace.
Have you considered opting for online proctored test instead of classroom exams or non-proctored online tests? This blog covers everything you need to know about using online proctoring for the exam. It discusses problems with non-proctored online tests and offline exams, looks at different formats of online video proctoring and various use-cases.
For those who are new to this field, "Proctoring or Proctored Test is defined as a mechanism to ensure the authenticity of the test taker and prevent him/her from cheating via a proctor is present during the duration of the test."
A proctor is a person who is trained and qualified to undertake student authentication and prevent them from doing any form of cheating.
Online Testing has been around for last 20 years in different formats. The most common type of online test is an objective test which tests a candidate on their subject knowledge or is used to understand his or her learning ability or behavioral profile.
What are the problems with offline proctored tests or online tests without proctoring?
1. Providing a proctored exam center near the location of the test taker is a significant challenge for most organizations administering any forms of tests.
2. Qualified Proctors are hard to find, and it's hard to ensure the quality of proctoring. And there are no records available to cross check whether the proctor did his/her job properly.
3. A limited supply of test centers or proctors also leads to extended test schedules.
4. In online test without proctoring, cases are often reported of impersonation and cheating. Students either ask some else to take the test on their behalf or use methods of cheating like referring to a textbook, using smartphones or other devices to search for answers online or taking help from a friend.
What is Online Exam Proctoring?
In Online Exam Proctoring or Online Video Test Proctoring, a candidate is monitored online during the test duration typically with the help of a webcam, mic and access to the screen of the candidate.
To take an online proctored test from a remote location candidates need:
1. a suitable device (Desktop PC/Laptop/Tablet/Mobile)
2. an Internet connection with at least 256kbps speed
3. a functional webcam and a mic
4. In PC/Laptop, any of the modern browsers
There are three main types of proctoring:
1. Live Online Proctoring
In a live proctored test, a qualified proctor monitors the candidates, audio-video and screen share feeds in real time.
Typically, the proctoring service provider will have people sitting in a remote location who have been trained to ensure student authentication and prevent/red flag any form of cheating.
A proctor can monitor up to 16/32 candidates at a time depending on the provider. The advantage of this model is that it removes the location constraint of proctoring.
Disadvantages are that it still requires the exams to be scheduled and since there is equal human involvement as offline proctoring it is not very scalable and is most expensive of all the types.
The test taker and proctor can be even thousands of miles apart. ProctorU is a leading provider in this model.
2. Recorded Proctoring
In this method, no proctor is monitoring the feed in real time. Instead, the audio-video and screen share feeds of the test candidates are recorded during the test.
A representative plays back these recordings in a fast-forwarded way (3X to 20X speed) and red-flags any suspicious activity through annotations.
Advantages are that it eliminates both schedule and location constraints. However, it still requires humans to do the review and hence it is not very scalable and is still expensive.
Software Secure or Remote Proctor Now follows this model.
3. Advanced Automated Proctoring
Automated proctoring is the most advanced form of proctoring. Here again, the audio-video and screen share feeds of the test candidates are recorded during the test.
But in addition to recording, the system also monitors the feeds for any suspicious activity using advanced video and audio analytics.
It ensures candidate focuses on test screen during the test; there is enough light in the room and checks for suspicious objects in video and background voice activity to red flag the test. It also uses face recognition to do student authentication.
Advantages are that it eliminates both schedule and location constraints. It also doesn't require humans to do the review, and hence it is scalable and is more cost effective.
Additional checks are available to make online proctored exams secure:
1. Limit candidate logins to specific IP addresses.
2. Blocking of copy-paste options
3. Freezing the screen of device blocking candidate from accessing other applications or switching windows
What factors are driving the growth of Online Proctoring?
Learning Light has done a detailed analysis on what is driving the growth of remote proctoring. Key aspects are:
1. Demand due to growth of e-learning
2. Elimination of high costs of proctored assessment centers
3. Save learners' time and money
4. There are not enough infrastruture or computer labs to administer exam condition environments
5. Increasing focus on work-based apprenticeships and the alignment of learning and assessments to actual organizational needs
Who all can make use of Online Exam Proctoring?
1. Assessment Providers
Assessment Providers who provide ready-made assessments or provide test engine to clients who have their content can leverage proctoring for the following benefits:
- Become a valuable partner by enabling assessments to be administered cheaper and faster.
- Generate additional revenue opportunities
- Improve usage per client by providing On-Demand tests anytime-anywhere
- Take business global by enabling remote proctoring
The use cases can be as varied as recruitment, college admission test, certifications, promotions, etc.
Assessment providers like Pearson, IBM Kenexa, provide online proctoring through Talview.
2. Online Education Providers- Universities, MOOCs
Online Education Providers, schools, and MOOCs, are being challenged by how to verify the validity and quality of their online programs effectively.
The two major concerns of the customer are cheating and student authentication.
It is clear that trusted proctoring solutions have become essential tools in online education for authenticating the identities of online students, assuring that students are taking exams without cheating, and assessing student performance effectively.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 in the US requires colleges and universities to verify the identity of students to ensure those who register for an online course are the ones who participate.
More than 500 universities in the US including Arizona State University, California State University use online proctored exams. MOOCs like edX and Coursera also make use of online video proctoring.
3. Certifying Agencies- Oracle, MS, etc
Certifying agencies are using online proctoring for the following benefits:
- Scale business by enabling students to complete certification from home
- Become more competitive by bringing down the cost of certification by eliminating the need for proctored test centers
- Expand addressable market by tapping into new geographies, lower ARPU niches
- Maintain visual records for audits on demand
Many organizations which provide certifications like Microsoft and Salesforce provide an online video proctoring option.
What are the implications of online proctoring to your business?
1. For all test administrators, the digital tools that support remote proctoring provide a reasonable level of security for exams taken remotely.
2. Also, for online universities and MOOCs, it provides validation for online education. For recruiters, it brings down the logistics requirement of entry level hiring significantly and hence time to hire and cost of hire.
3. For test takers, these systems offer an opportunity to complete online assessments in a variety of times and places as per convenience.
4. Remote proctored exams can be unscheduled and immediate, delivered with Internet-based testing. All of the data for the candidate, video & audio logs, screenshots, etc are available for future reference.
What are the key features to look out for a while choosing a remote proctoring tool?
1. Quick and easy integration with any existing LMS/ Assessment Engine. Most solutions in the market would require you to use their assessment engine or run the proctoring service as a parallel application.
Talview allows you to integrate proctoring to any existing assessment engine providing administrators and test takers with a seamless experience.
2. Robustness of the platform is critical, online proctoring involves video streaming, desktop sharing, etc.; glitches can affect candidate performance.
If you are selecting a tool which is being used only in the US, it might not perform well in other geographies where internet speed and hardware quality are not the best.
3. More automation, the better. A lot of modern technologies are available which can make online proctoring extremely efficient. See the last section where we discuss future of online proctoring for more details.
4. Excellent reporting capabilities will help you to be on top of candidate experience & efficiency metrics and make the initiative a success.
What are the disadvantages of remote proctoring?
1. A few commercial proctoring services are expensive, with per-student prices that can be prohibitive for a large-enrollment course. But, advanced automated proctoring is highly scalable and very economical.
2. The method is still very new for many users, making them uncomfortable. Hence letting the test taker know exactly what to expect in an online proctoring session is vital and can substantively reduce the stress of what many see as an invasion of privacy.
3. The effectiveness of human proctors monitoring online sessions can be uneven. Here again, automated proctoring method eliminates human errors.
Can candidates cheat during a test which is proctored online?
There are blogs online which gives candidates tips to trick many proctoring systems. But as these blogs convey candidates will have to resort to extreme measures and need elaborate preparation to trick the video proctoring system since the complete audio-visual recordings are available for cross verification at any point in time.
The majority of candidates will rather fall in line than try to do all this. Proctors involved are well trained and experienced to detect any hints of malpractice like candidate eye movement and body language.
The process followed during online proctoring includes asking the candidate to record a video of the surroundings and test machine setup. The systems are becoming more and more intelligent making it extremely difficult to cheat.
Reena Ghosh has done a detailed review of cheating and counter measures in this article. Arkansas Tech University has done a paper on candidate behavior during online proctored exams.
What do candidates think of Proctored Exams?
Candidates love convenience. Hence it is natural to think why should they take a day's leave and travel all the way to a test center when they can do it at the convenience of their homes at a suitable time.
There aren't many studies available at present which have analyzed candidate feedback from proctored assessments.
Can Proctored Tests happen on Mobile Devices?
Talview is the only player who currently supports video proctoring in its candidate mobile app. Nature of mobile devices with the front camera makes it as fool-proof as web-based tests with minimal checks and processes in place.
What is the Future of Online Proctoring?
Remote proctoring tools is going to become the mainstay for online courses. It might soon impact other types of assessments too. The current trends include:
1. Enhancing the test taker's authentication by the use of biometric inputs from devices like smartwatches and fitness monitors.
2. Smartwatches and fitness monitors may also be employed to detect changes in pulse and temperature and send such data to proctoring software to serve as malpractice cues.
3. Facial recognition is already used by Talview to avoid impersonation. Keyboard behavior analysis is also in use. In future, sound recognition and touchscreen behavior analysis might be utilized as additional checks.
4. Head movement and position and illumination analysis are already in use by Talview for cheating. The tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. can be used in future.